From "You" to "I"

I want to highlight something that is very important and rarely talked about. I noticed that all four Elevate workshop facilitators hit on it, but it wasn’t until I was talking it through with William the other day that I really got it.

Have you ever had someone offer you advice that felt irrelevant, cliche, or even the opposite of what you were going for? In some cases, the advice was even to go and have experiences that you were intentionally trying to avoid for good reason. Being in College, I’m pretty sure that every other thing out of the mouth of someone over 23, that is intended for me, is advice. It’s terribly frustrating. Especially when the advice is based on a future that I don’t plan on having. For example, I have returning alumni always tell me to, “live it up before I get to the real world because the real word is just not fun”. No, I’m sorry you made some poor choices and are doing things you don’t want to do, but I’m not you.

That’s the problem. Advice often comes from a place of “you”. “You should do this…”, “You should do that…”. That advice is only relevant to the giver. It’s a projection of what they miss, regret, or wish they had the courage to do. It’s not helpful, and in some instances it can cause harm. No one knows anything. We have experiences and perspectives that we can share with others, but no one has the answers. We need to share from that place. The place of “I”.

When you speak from a place of “I” you make yourself vulnerable. You’re sharing a personal experience and what it meant for you. This makes your advice become more “take it or leave it”. “This is what happened to me, this how I responded, and this is the outcome/takeaway. Take it or leave it, I was just sharing a story.”

We’ve all lead very different lives and live inside realities with different goals and possibilities. By speaking from a place of “you” we are trying to force the rules and expectations of our reality on someone else instead of welcoming them into ours. And who knows, when you let people in with an “I” they may find the answers and help that a “you” could never have provided.